Eric Lamaze, Canada’s 2008 Olympic Champion and 2016 Olympic individual bronze medalist, guided his Rio mount Fine Lady 5 to victory in the $130,000 Adequan® Grand Prix CSI 3* on Saturday night at the 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Wellington, FL. Lamaze topped Germany’s Olympic team bronze medalist Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum riding Comanche 28 in second, and Spanish Olympian Sergio Alvarez Moya aboard G&C Unicstar de l’Aumone in third.
WEF three, sponsored by Adequan®, concludes on Sunday, January 29, featuring the $35,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic. The class can be seen on the live stream HERE. The 12-week WEF circuit continues through April 2, 2017, awarding over $9 million in prize money.
Belgium’s Luc Musette built the course for Saturday night’s grand prix under the lights in the International Arena at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC). Forty-three entries contested the first round track, with seven advancing on to the jump-off, and three double clear rounds.
Lamaze, with Artisan Farms and Torrey Pines Stable’s Fine Lady 5, stopped the clock in 40.26 seconds for the win. Michaels-Beerbaum and Artemis Equestrian Farm’s Comanche 28 finished second in 40.79 seconds. Moya was close behind for a third place finish in 40.80 seconds with G&C Farm’s Unicstar de l’Aumone. Laura Chapot (USA) clocked the fastest four-fault round with Mary Chapot’s ISHD Dual Star to place fourth in 41.83 seconds.
Lamaze and Fine Lady 5 concluded a banner 2016 season with a win in the Rolex Top Ten Final at CHI Geneva (SUI) in December before a short rest and gearing up to compete this winter.
“She felt really good tonight,” Lamaze said of the 14-year-old Hanoverian mare (Forsyth FRH x Drosselklang II). “I gave her a long rest after the Olympics, and then started back and just did Paris and Geneva. I plan on using her quite a bit at the beginning of the circuit here since she is fit from Geneva already. Then we will give her a rest before returning to Europe.”
Fine Lady’s quick foot speed carried the pair easily through the jump-off track, and Lamaze remarked on the long gallop home to the final oxer on course.
“You need to have the distance in front of you to be fast,” he noted. “If there is something in front of you, you take it. One pull and I’m easily third or maybe fourth.”
He added, “This was a difficult course, but she has done some very big classes lately. This was hard, but for her but it was a little bit of an easier class.”
Michaels-Beerbaum was happy with the progress that her mount, an 11-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Coupe de Couer x Baloubet du Rouet), has made since last winter in Wellington.
“I think Fine Lady is a really fast horse, and Comanche is just learning to go fast,” she stated. “I was very happy with him tonight. Comanche, I believe over the last year, has gained a tremendous amount of experience. He has always been a fantastic jumper, but he has been slightly green in the ring and a little bit spooky. Over the last year he’s been to shows all over the world, and I think that has helped him. I think he has grown up a lot, and tonight you could really see he gained a lot of self-confidence.”
Michaels-Beerbaum applauded Lamaze on his victory, adding, “It is a great honor to sit next to this guy and to be second to him by just a tiny bit.”
Riding for Spain, Moya was aboard a young mount in the nine-year-old Selle Francais mare Unicstar de l’Aumone (Ninio de Rox x Timorrak des Isles) for his first experience in a WEF “Saturday Night Lights” grand prix.
Moya stated, “I was very confident with her. She has never been under the lights, but she is always great. She tries her best, and she never doubts anything. She is naturally very fast, so I did not want to override the jump-off. It was not an easy class, and it is an honor to be next to Eric and Meredith. I am very happy with my third place.”
Allyn Mann, representing class sponsor and week three title sponsor Adequan®, was on-hand for the night’s event and remarked on the competition.
“What an honor to be sitting here with Eric, Meredith, and Sergio,” Mann stated. “The beauty of these equestrian disciplines is that it is an acknowledgment of these animals and what we ask them to do. Tonight was a wonderful example of that. We are honored and humbled by the opportunity to help the health and well-being of the horse so that these riders can go out and do what they love to do, which is to compete.”